Of the 150 million daily coffee drinkers in the US, it turns out that a large majority is consuming expensive and frankly, bad coffee. Wandering Bear Coffee is changing that. The NYC-based coffee company brings ready to drink, already brewed coffee in the form of a box similar to wine. Founded by two friends while at Columbia Business School, the cofounders decided to think outside the box and put coffee in the box with a tap. The company is serving offices and consumers, both online and in person with partnerships with Target, Whole Foods, Fresh Direct, and Eataly.
AlleyWatch spoke with cofounders Matt Bachmann and Ben Gordon about the company and its most recent round of funding, which brings their total funding to $10.5M over three rounds from investors that include M3 Ventures and AccelFoods.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $8M in Series A funding.
Tell us about Wandering Bear Coffee.
In the simplest terms, we make delicious cold brew coffee and package it to perfectly fit each daily consumption occasion, whether at home at work or on the go. We also offer a subscription service for both consumers and businesses, which has been incredibly popular.
We were passionate consumers of the category that met and egged each other’s interest into fanaticism. We saw an opportunity to create cold brew products that fit daily routines and that people would want to, and love to, consume every day.
How is it different?
The brand, the packaging, the liquid itself, and the distribution strategy.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are attacking the coffee industry which is roughly $50B in the US.
What’s your business model?
Both wholesale and direct. Both B2B and B2C
How do you source your coffee?
We use fair trade certified organic coffee from Peru.
What was the funding process like?
The fundraising process challenges you to become really sharp on strategy and vision. The great part is that we had the opportunity to meet with some of the most sophisticated, experienced and respected investors in the industry. We’re very collaborative and as such the conversations became a real dialogue. To an extent, the feedback we received was like free consulting, another data point and perspective to add into the mix as we plan the future.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Running the business while raising capital. It’s a strain on time.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The fundamental traction numbers around retention rates and turns at stores that suggest a passionate and loyal consumer base really helped our case.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are looking at expansion outside of our home market and the launch of innovative new products.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Firstly, I am a big believer that capital strategy and business strategy need to be co developed. With that in mind, raising outside (venture) capital is not always the right move. But aside from that, our advice would be to focus on the consumer and make sure the product or service you’re delivering is truly satisfying an underserved want or need. If you can find and create around that, the rest will come.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Up! The bear is ready to wander.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Oh my. So hard to say. Recently tried Don Angie in the West Village and loved it. Quality Eats is also a go-to.